Water Shaper, by Laura Williams McCafferey, is an astonishing and beautifully written book. I can honestly say that it’s one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time.
At first the story seems to be pretty standard fantasy fare: a princess with unusual magical talent, in this case water magic, is unappreciated and even reviled for her talent. An outsider in her own land, she lives nonetheless at the will of her father, the king, and is not free to leave and find a better life elsewhere. She has no hope, until she is rescued by a handsome king who helps her to escape and invites her to come and live in his land, where her talent will be appreciated. That’s when the story begins to take unexpected turns. I don’t want to say too much and give away the delightful way that the story unfolds, but suffice it to say that all is not as it seems!
The characters are well developed and seem like real people. The heroine, Margot, is a strong female character in a land which is rigidly patriarchal. An outside everywhere, Margot longs to find a place where she belongs, but eventually discoveres that she must make a life for herself. Even the antagonists are fully fleshed out, with sympathetic characteristics. There’s no black and white here, just many shades of gray.